Itching, skin rashes, ear infections, or gastrointestinal issues are some of the common symptoms caused by food allergies or food sensitivities. The symptoms could be so similar that it makes us wonder, are food allergies and food sensitivities the same?
Food sensitivity (Also known as food intolerance) means that your dog is unable to properly digest a particular food. The dog’s body shows an abnormal response to an ingredient but it does not involve the immune system. Dogs with a food sensitivity will show symptoms within an hour of eating the “intolerant” ingredient. An example would be lactose intolerance, an inability to digest milk products well, which tends to result in diarrhea, gas, and/or vomiting.
For dogs that are unable to process the nutrients necessary for healthy skin, food sensitivities may also cause itchy skin or ears, and repeated scratching can result in hair loss and repeated infections. Generally, gastrointestinal symptoms are more likely to be the results of a food sensitivity rather than an allergy. Itching, skin rashes, and ear infections are often caused by environmental allergens, however, they could also result from a food allergy.
Food allergy is the immune system’s response to a particular food the body mistakenly perceives as a threat. In other words, it occurs because your dog’s immune system is lacking. This response requires extended exposure to the trigger, so symptoms may take a long time to show up. For example, some dogs suffer from a flea allergy, in which the body reacts to flea saliva by intense itching. There are also environmental allergies such as pollen, dust, and mold which are relatively common in dogs.
Studies have found that some ingredients are more likely to cause food allergies in dogs than others. Most of the time, it’s the protein in a dog’s food that triggers an allergy. Some common food allergies are beef, dairy, fish, and wheat. There are also dogs that are allergic to preservatives or other food additives. In addition to scratching themselves with their hind feet, dogs often lick or chew the affected areas, or rub along the floor and furniture to scratch their face or ears.
Food sensitivities and food allergies can occur in dogs of any breed and at any age. There is a possibility for dogs to develop sensitivities or allergies to the food they have eaten for a long period of time. If that particular food lacks important nutrients, this ongoing nutrient deficiency may cause serious health problems over time.
Rotation of protein sources is recommended whereby the dog consumes different types of food with different protein sources in a slow rotation. This approach reduces the chances that your dog will develop a food sensitivity or allergy and helps to ensure that they obtain a range of different proteins, carbohydrates, and other nutrients.
If you suspect that your dog has a food allergy, you can consider going through an elimination diet to determine an adverse food reaction. An elimination diet involves feeding your dog a new protein source that he/ she has never eaten before, and therefore has not developed a sensitivity to it.
If you are unsure, seek professional help. Your veterinarian can help you to plan an elimination diet suitable for your dog. If you have doubts on whether there could be other underlying health problems, talk to your veterinarian about your concerns. They will be able to determine if your dog’s symptoms are related to food or a more serious health issue.
Adopted from sources
– Food Allergy Or Food Intolerance: What’s Wrong With My Dog’s Tummy? By Diamondpet.
– Has my pet got a food allergy or intolerance? By Laura Crotch, Burnspet.
– Dog Food Allergies and Sensitivities: How to Help. By Ellen Barber, Animalbiome.
– Images from Pixabay.com.
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